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NYEGE NYEGE TAPES

From its founding in the late 14th century, the kingdom of Buganda has been celebrated through sound and nurtured a rich musical tradition in its royal court. Coming from across the kingdom, musicians would take turns in the palace to sound drums, xylophones, flutes, lyres, and more to praise and honour the existence of the kingship. In recent years however, the tradition has been more difficult to maintain, especially since 1966 where there was a violent attack on the palace that abruptly abolished the kingdom and during which royal musicians fled or were killed. And while the kingdom was re-established in 1993 as a cultural institution, many of the remaining musicians had since chosen to sideline their skills to deal with the issues of their day to day lives, the practice of the royal tradition waning in popularity, especially with younger listeners and players. But all is not lost. Scattered across the kingdom, a motivated team of older veterans and attentive young players are still keeping the tradition alive. Offering a transversal glimpse into the past and the present, "Buganda Royal Music Revival" collects recordings made in between the late 1940s and 1966 illustrating the older generation's skills, and presents them alongside recent recordings featuring old and young musicians who still carry on this musical tradition, some even performing for the current king, Muwenda Mutebi II.

The later were made during the shooting of the 2019 documentary "Buganda Royal Music Revival" that presents through a film what this album conveys through sounds: a packed dive into a century-old tradition. The music displayed here is diverse and vibrant, presenting a variety of styles and highlighting instruments that illustrate the depth and sophistication that stemmed from the royal court experience of Buganda. As a starter, the album opens with 'Mujaguzo'. Often translated as 'The Drums of the Kingship', the mujaguzo is a crucial ensemble for the cultural tradition, made from drums collected by the kingdom throughout its long history and numbering around 100 drums (historical records suggest there were at some point over 300). They are the vitality of the kingship packaged into sound.

From here, we're introduced deeper to an array of instruments and textures, like the buzzing Bugandan lyre (endongo) by contemporary royal player Albert Bisaso Ssempeke, the resonant akadinda xylophone with its 21 large wooden keys, Temutewo Mukasa's restless praise sung with his harp (ennanga), the hand-made gourd trumpet (amakondere), the entenga "drum-chime" and its core set of 12 drums tuned like the amadinda xylophone, or the tightly intertwined melodies of the flutes ensemble (abalere). With the music, the hissing and swishing sounds of old tapes reminds at times the listener of the long process, from the original recording to its archival digitization, that allows the talent of past musicians to still vibrate nowadays. This rousing selection of music and moods is a unique and all too rare exploration of sounds that celebrates the common history of generations of musicians, and the question remains open as to how this rich cultural tradition will shape and be shaped by the upcoming Bugandan future, and what engagement it will trigger among audiences within, but also beyond, the kingdom of Buganda.


Raja Kirik is Indonesian duo Yennu Ariendra and J. Mo'ong Santoso Pribadi, two radical artists who draw on Java's rich cultural traditions and its history of struggle against colonial oppression to create music that surprises, challenges and educates in equal measure. They root their music in the sound of shamanic trance dances, specifically the Jaranan, or Jathilan, a Hindu-Buddhist-era dance from the 11th Century that symbolizes the ways common people could overcome their rulers using evasion and agility. "Rampokan" is Ariendra and Pribadi's second album and is inspired by centuries of cultural resistance in Java. When Dutch traders established a colonial presence on the island at the end of the 16th Century, the Javanese used traditional dances to express their opposition.

Raja Kirik express this historical friction with a mind-bending fusion of traditional Indonesian percussion, digital noise and overdriven Dutch hardstyle(!!!). The album roots itself in the stage of Jaranan performance where the players become possessed, connecting to their subconscious mind and the body's collective memory and trauma. Ariendra and Pribadi reflect this by dousing evocative microtonal clanks from their arsenal of home-made instruments in expertly designed digital noise, and stringing the disparate elements together with the oppressive pneumatic pressure of high-BPM, warehouse-ready kick drums. Like the trance dances that inspired them, these tracks evolve and cycle from misery to ecstasy, spinning distinctive narratives with rhythm, texture and repetition. The album title is taken from "Rampokan Macan", a colonial-era arena battle between spearmen, criminals and wild animals. The ceremonial fights were provided to illustrate the strength of the Javanese Royal Kingdoms in the face of the Dutch East Indies government; Raja Kirik's sophomore album is a similarly lavish display, offering a charged confrontation of IDM, hard dance music and traditional sounds that spits fire into the face of tyranny.


STAFF COMMENTS

Matt says: Shamanic hardstyle anyone?! I've heard it all now..! Transcendental through speed, aggression and ritualistic sonic arts. Seek spiritual console before proceeding!

TRACK LISTING

1. Bujang Ganong
2. Barongan I
3. Barongan II
4. Barongan III
5. Tarian Maut Dari Gunung
6. Tanah Prahara
7. Rampokan I
8. Rampokan II
9. Kubro
10. DOR 

Various Artists

Sounds Of Pamoja

    Sounds of Pamoja is Nyege Nyege Tapes' latest foray into the world of Tanzania Singeli, the breakneck dance strain that's quickly moved from Dar es Salaam throughout the world. Following "Sounds of Sisso", a compilation that focused mostly on the Tanzanian capital's Sisso Studios, this set highlights recordings from Duke's Pamoja Records. And while its predecessor brought attention to the producers, "Sounds of Pamoja" showcases the wide variety of MC talent under the Pamoja Records umbrella, with production mostly handled by Duke. Tanzania is a country of young people almost half of its population is under 15 years old and singeli is a young genre.

    Duke started making music when he was 13 years old, and by the time he was 18 he had opened the Pamoja Records studio. He's joined on the compilation by a talented cast of young local talent: 20 year old Pirato MC, 19 year old Dogo Kibo, 20 year old MC Kuke, Dogo Lizzy, MC Dinho, MC Kidene and MCZO, the versatile rapper who accompanied Duke on a selection of global tour dates. The music is fresh and unpredictable, switching beats every few bars and rattling through hyper-local dance styles with jagged, joyful ease. But it's the MCs that push "Sounds of Pamoja '' to the next level, capitalizing on the vitality of Dar es Salaam's musical landscape as they trade bars, switch flows and somehow keep up with Duke's lightning-fast productions. It's breathtakingly unique dance music that recalls the youthful spirit of Detroit techno or footwork, with rapid body movement, social combustion and tongue twisting lyrical one upmanship guiding the rudder.

    TRACK LISTING

    1 Pigo La Moyo - Dogo Kibo
    2 Nakupenda - Dogo Lizzy
    3 Angekuwepo - Dogo Lizzy
    4 Kamatia Chini - MC Dinho
    5 Il Jini Song Wapi - MC Kono
    6 Kwa Ajiri Yao - MC Kuke
    7 Sherehe - MC Kuke
    8 Ganja - MC Pilato Ft Mczo
    9 Mama Ashura - MC Pilato
    10 Wamenichoma - MC Pilato
    11 Ushauri Wa Bure - Mczo


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